The late Etta James – who died earlier this year aged 73, after a long battle with ill health – visited the Montreux Jazz Festival several times during her long career. Though this DVD’s purported main attraction is a concert shot at the festival in 1993 – filmed when James was in relatively good condition at the age of 55 – bonuses of additional and older Montreux footage (90 minutes in all) is the main reason for investing in this tremendous package.
James’ Montreux debut came on her maiden European tour in 1975 and four tracks from that memorable concert are featured here. Sassy and sexy – especially on a funk-fuelled WOMAN – she’s in explosive form on a truly volcanic rendition of Ray Charles’ heartbreak R&B ballad Drown In My Own Tears. Three tracks from a 1977 concert – including James’ immortal signature song At Last – prove just as compelling, documenting a time when the singer was in her vocal prime. Three further appearances – in 1978, 1989 and 1990 – are also included, rounding off a vivid portrait of one of the greatest and most soulful female voices in popular music.